Airbnb has opened a whole world of possibilities. Instead of having to pay for luxurious resorts, we can now find comfort in much cheaper, yet equally cozy vacation rentals. The only difference is – until you go and see, you can’t be 100% sure if the place is a modern-day palace or a damp basement room.

Exaggeration aside, listings from deceitful owners do squeeze through Airbnb’s vetting process. It happens to Booking too, even though these two platforms hold the standard high when it comes to connecting travelers with accommodating hosts. Though rare, these oversights can ruin your vacation.

Here’s how to avoid them when booking a rental.

  1. Read the Descriptions Very Thoroughly

Descriptions of rental properties are often misleading. What else to expect from an owner trying to sell a perfect vacation experience? They don’t necessarily lie about the place, but they may omit something important or glamorize what is average. That’s why you need to read them very carefully.

The more ornate the writing style, the more marketing savvy lies behind it. Look beyond the attention-grabbing phrases (we are the only ones to offer this and that feature, or you can’t find anything better than this) and extract only specific information about the property – what it features and what it lacks.

  1. Check the Rental’s Rating and Reviews

Still, even the most honestly written description cannot be as unbiased as a real-life guest review. All booking platforms insist on this type of feedback, which means that you’ll have plenty to read. Don’t just skim the reviews, as they are the best and most reliable indicator of what the rental actually feels like.

As a good alternative to having to learn how to file a bed bug injury lawsuit (believe it or not, these bizarre injuries happen even in hotels), guests’ ratings and reviews provide the widest array of crucial information about the rental and its owner. Keep scrolling, because this type of info often gets buried.

  1. Spend Some Time Deciphering the Map

Descriptions on booking sites often offer ambiguous phrases like only a few steps away from the beach or very close to the nearest metro station. Since these vague measuring units can mean anything from half-an-hour walk to a driving distance away, you should always consult an actual map of the location.

Both Airbnb and Booking send you to Google Maps, where you can see first-hand where the property really is. And since Google Maps tags all metro and bus stations, as well as important amenities like restaurants, pharmacies, and markets, it’ll help you get a better sense of where you will be located.

  1. Do Your Own Math Before You Book

The rate you see on the main search page is usually the lowest price you’d need to pay for a night at a vacation rental. Either because discounts apply in certain cases, or because the host has different prices for different seasons, this rate is shown as a click-bait that is supposed to lure you into booking.

Not only are vacation rentals more expensive during busy seasons, but they also come with additional fees that are not always properly disclosed. Some hosts charge extra for cleaning services, utilities, and internet, for example. Don’t book before you’ve read all the fine print and done your own math.

  1. Don’t Assume Anything Is a Given

Let’s say that a property comes with a hot tub or a gym. These two alone are enough to convince you to book a stay, so that’s exactly what you do. Only then you realize that you won’t be allowed to use them unless you cash out a third of your total rate amount on top of what you already need to pay.

The moral is, never assume anything is a given. That applies to amenities just as much as it applies to payment systems (does the host accept credit cards, for example) and additional fees. If the description doesn’t make this clear, then feel free to make a phone call or send an email to the owner.

In fact, much of the common mistakes of booking a vacation rental can be avoided simply by contacting a host and asking detailed questions. If they are anything like they present themselves to be – which is accommodating and friendly – their answers will be thorough, prompt, and objective.

About Author: The author of this blog is a content marketer who formally worked at Emerging NewsHub 24. A writer by day and a reader by night, he loathes discussing himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.